David Choate, Jr.
A San Jacinto Veteran
By W. T. Block
One of the saddest facts of Southeast Texas history is that there are four or more veterans of the Battle of San Jacinto, whose graves are unmarked with a headstone or Texas State historical marker, or whose actual burial sites are unknown. Sixteen-year-old Michael Peveto was sick during the battle, and he was discharged. Three weeks later he died; and is buried near Nome, but his actual grave site is lost. Michael J. Brake, whose musket broke during the battle, forcing him to pick up one off the ground, lived near Magnolia Cemetery and the bayou which still bears his name, but his grave location is unknown. David Choate, Jr., the subject of this treatise, is buried in Leatherwood Cemetery at Loeb, Hardin County, near the banks of Pine Island Bayou, but there is no Texas State marker at his grave.
David Choate, Jr., was born in 1811 in Louisiana, the son of David Choate, Sr., (1784-1845) and Sarah A. M. Choate. He was probably born near Zwolle, LA, for his father moved his family to that vicinity prior to 1818. In 1831 David Choate, Sr., moved his family to Texas, where on Oct. 27, 1834 he obtained a Mexican league of land (4,428 acres) on Pine Island Bayou.1
David Choate, Jr., had five siblings, as follows: Thomas Jefferson, John, Edmond; Susan, who married Stephen Jackson (also a soldier in Capt. Logans’ company, but not a participant in the Battle of San Jacinto); and (according to Carol Whittington and George W. Glass), Sarah Choate Martin, who married Valentine T. Dalton in Houston in 1844. Three of the children, David, John and Edmond, also received quarter-league (1,107 acres) land grants, also along Pine Island Bayou. Thomas Jefferson Choate received a one-league grant in Harris County.2
Choate, Jr., joined a group of Beaumont volunteers under Capt. B. J. Harper about Mar. 4, 1836, and they immediately left for Liberty. Upon arrival on March 6th, Harper’s companies and Franklin Hardin’s company were combined with Capt. William Logan’s company. On April 21, 1836, Capt. Logan’s company fought at the Battle of San Jacinto, the third company, second regiment of Texas Volunteers, under Colonel Sidney Sherman.3
On May 25, 1838, David Choate, Jr., received Bounty Certificate No. 3577 for 320 acres of land. On May 28, 1838, he was awarded Donation Certificate No. 244 for 640 acres for having fought at the Battle of San Jacinto. On the reverse of his service record No. 7613, it is stated that Mr. Choate slaughtered cattle on East Bay for the troops stationed on Galveston Island from Oct. 29, 1836 until Jan. 8, 1837, for which he was due wages at the rate of $2.00 daily.4
Thereafter Choate identified himself in the Federal censuses as a farmer, but it known that he engaged in land speculation on a considerable scale as well. During the early 1840s, David Choate, Sr. and his wife moved to Harris County, presumably to the home of their son Thomas, and both of them died there in 1845. According to probate records, David and Thomas Choate were appointed executors of their estates.5 All of David Choate, Jr.’s military bounty and donation land grants were surveyed on Pine Island Bayou. Although one Choate descendent claims otherwise, the 1850 Harris County census enumerated him, at age 35, and Mary Choate, age 19, as farmers at res. 605-595, page 34a. There was also a 7-year-old girl, Ophelia Dalton, living in their household, who is believed to have been a blood relation.6
It is sheer speculation as to how long David Choate, Jr. lived in Harris County; it may have been as little as 2 years, or much longer, and apparently he was farming on his brother’s land grant. At any rate, on Dec. 4, 1849, he married Mary Coon at Conroe, Montgomery County, and the couple had no children of their own.7
After his return to Pine Island Bayou during the early 1850s, Choate founded the town of Concord on the north shore of the bayou and many miles from the Neches River. By 1860 Concord was probably the largest town in Hardin County, and the only town between Beaumont and Woodville that lay on the stagecoach route.
Nearly all that is known about Concord was published in a “Letter from Hal” (H. R. Green), dated Nov. 9, 1859, and published in the Galveston Weekly News. Green visited Concord aboard the steamer Mary Falvey to load cotton, and he noted that “Father” Womack ran the Catfish Hotel, and that Hough and Bendy and Johnson and Co. were the principal business houses of the town.
“Cotton and freights are pouring in here in vast quantities...a hundred wagons may be seen here at one time... Everywhere land purchasers may be seen…heavy planters coming in with 50 to 100 Negroes, buying of all who will sell improved or unimproved lands and going to work with telling effect!” Green reported.8
In the 1860 Hardin County census David was enumerated at res. 94, age 47, farmer, with real estate worth $6,000 and personal property worth $250. Apparently Mary Choate lied to the census enumerator more than once, stating that she was 24 in 1860 and 39 in 1880.9
David deeded to the county the area on Pine Island Bayou now known as the Leatherwood or Loeb Cemetery. Before he died on Jan. 26, 1879, he sent to his friend, John Wood Davis in Beaumont, and exacted his promise to manage his estate and care for his widow Mary. His widow died on Nov. 13, 1909, and since she had no children, she left her property to Davis, who died on Aug. 10, 1911. All of them are buried side by side, with “...heavy chains fastened to large iron posts surround the graves...”
David Choate, Jr., in the style of the early American pioneer, shouldered his musket in time of war, and returned to his plow handles in time of peace. His life and course of action paralleled those of many others who were his contemporaries in Southeast Texas.
1 Choate family history, by Jeremy Choate.
2 Ibid.; biography of David Choate, Jr., in the San Jacinto Museum of History; S. H. Dixon and L. W. Kemp, The Heroes of San Jacinto (Houston: Jones Press, 1932).
3 W. T. Block, “Minutemen of 1835-1836: Southeast Texans in the War for Texas Independence,” Texas Gulf Historical and Biographical Record, XI (Nov. 1975), 82-83; also page 37, Muster Roll Book, Texas General Land Office.
4 Biography of David Choate, Jr., at San Jacinto Museum of History.
6 7th Census of the United States, 1850, Harris County, TX res. 605-595, p. 34a.
7 Biography of David Choate, Jr., on website of Thomas Cloud.
8 From Galveston Weekly News, and reported in W. T. Block, ed.-annotator, “Beaumont in the 1850s: Extracts from the Writings of Henry R. Green,” Texas Gulf Historical and Biographical Record, XI (Nov., 1975), 49-78.
9 1860 Hardin County, Texas census, res. 94; 1880 Hardin County census, res. 134.